The smooth, iterative patterns of rolling Utah hills are only occasionally interrupted by the cubic forms of little homesteads. I happened to be rolling down the Interstate at just the right moment to catch this house peaking out from the shadow of the nearby hill into the morning light.
Huge population growth in the American West led to a lot of new construction; I see the same thing in my remote area of Northern New York. Unlike up here, where storms and seasonal temperature cycles destroyed many of those structures after they were no longer useful, this partially inhabited area in Utah remains well-preserved.
Working through processing my back-catalog of sabbatical photos, I’ve finally come to the end of those I took in California. My semester of science and good food had come to an end, and now we drove back across the continent. The drive in December meant lots of snow-covered deserts and hillsides; summer was a bit different.
The human-made structures are as insignificant as you’d expect in the face of the great, empty American West.
From the Interstate across Nevada, the desert landscape astonishes me with its variety. Far from being a boring wasteland, the expanses of waving grasses, shrubs, shallow water, and rock hills provide a spectacular mixture. Even when I know the biology and ecology behind it, my east-coast-calibrated brain still can’t quite grasp that all of this water doesn’t equal trees.
Crossing the American West last winter, I was struck by the profound changes to the landscape affected by large-scale infrastructure programs. Rural electrification resulted in an expectation of electrical availability, and power lines now stretch to the horizon.
In much the same way, lines of Interstate highway curve off to the distance, twinned East and West streams.